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Azad Championship Report: Rodriguez dominates Escalera, calls out Pavlik

Edwin Rodriguez (R) - Photo © Edward Diller - DiBella Entertainment/Star Boxing
Edwin Rodriguez (R) - Photo © Edward Diller - DiBella Entertainment/Star Boxing

The MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT hosted the fall premiere of HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” series Saturday night.

In the main event, undefeated super middleweight Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez stayed that way by stopping super game Jason Escalera in round eight. Rodriguez (22-0, 15 KOs) came out fast. His right hand found Escalera’s body and chin a dozen times in the first two minutes of the round. Escalera, who lost for the first in his career, wobbled around the ring. He fired a few punches in return, but continued to eat right hands. Rodriguez fought more controlled in round two. The resilient Escalera (13-1, 12 KOs) did a little better, but Rodriguez continued to land his right to the body. Rodriguez found a home for his left hook in round four. At the end of round five, Rodriguez caught Escalera with a huge right hand on the temple. Escalera staggered against the ropes. Rodriguez continued to land hard punches in rounds six and seven. At the end of the seventh stanza, referee Steve Smoger eyed Escalera closely. The young fighter was hurting. Twelve seconds into round eight, referee Smoger stopped the bout after a Rodriguez left hook cut Escalera‘s ear.

Rodriguez mentioned after the fight that would be willing to move up to the light heavyweight division. He called out former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik.

In a crossroads fight, former champion Vic Darchinyan (38-5-1, 27 KOs) defeated youngster Luis Orlando Del Valle (16-1, 11 KOs) by a unanimous decision. The scores were 99-91 twice, and 96-94. After a close opening round, super bantamweight Del Valle caught southpaw Darchinyan with a hard right hand. Darchinyan was the busier fighter. The 36-year-old heavy hitter clipped Del Valle with two hard jabs and a left hook. The veterans work rate was too much for his younger opponent. In round five, Darchinyan nailed the 25-year-old with a thunderous hook. The question was whether Del Valle, a boxer-puncher was fighting an intelligent fight. Darchinyan, on the other hand, liked the quicker Del Valle right in front of him. Darchinyan found a home for his uppercut in round seven. Del Valle refused to quit. He landed a big left hand in round nine that hurt Darchinyan. Del Valle tried to follow-up his momentary advantage in round ten. Darchinyan refused to fold, pounding Del Valle with some slashing inside hooks.
Welterweight prospect Antonin Decarie (27-1, 8 KOs) consistently beat Alex Perez (16-1, 9 KOs) to the punch on his way to stopping the New Jersey native in round six. Decarie, shorter by a few inches, hurt Perez with a strong right hand in round two. Perez, from New Jersey did better in round three. The action intensified in round four with Perez landing a strong uppercut. Decarie countered by landing a variety of punches. In round six, Decarie connected with a monstrous left hook that staggered Perez. A follow-up right put Perez down. The young battler got to his feet, but was obviously hurt. Decarie connected with three right hands along the ropes that convinced the referee to stop the bout. The time of the stoppage was 2:54. Decarie claimed the NABF welterweight title with the victory.

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